<This is a contributed post>
There are many ways to experience the world, but is there a way that’s more fun than through taste? Not in our book. The world is an ocean of flavours, and it’s not just that we get to experience the satisfaction of enjoying a delicious meal — through food, we get to learn about the culture that we’re exploring. So the next time you’re on the road, look at seeking out the ingredients and dishes that epitomise the destination. But how? We’ll take a look at a few key ways below.
Research Local Flavours
You might think you have a sense of the foods that a country is known for, but do you really? The exported dishes are usually just the most famous ones. Think pizza for the Italians, burritos for the Mexicans, and tapas for the Spanish. Dive a little deeper, and you’ll find that things become a lot more interesting. It’s not just the country, but the region. You’ll find different dishes in the northern part of Spain than you would in the south, for instance. So before you set off on your adventure, do a little research to see what dishes the specific spot you’re visiting is famous for.
Visit the Essentials
You can and should visit the very best restaurants and so forth that the destination offers, but it’s arguably just as important to visit the places where the locals go. That’ll give you a greater insight into the culinary landscape than anything else. So where do we mean? It’s all about the essentials. The local pubs/bars will show you what everyone drinks, and the casual food. The best coffee shop in town will give you a taste of the local coffee scene — indeed, there’s an entire culture dedicated to sampling local coffee, so be sure to give it a try. If there’s a local market, then head there. They’ll be full of all the ingredients that the locals use in their dishes.
And of course, you can’t forget the best restaurants in town. This isn’t necessarily about tasting the dishes that are representative of the area, but more about trying the very best that the region has to offer. It doesn’t matter where you go; there’ll always be a couple of restaurants that the locals or guide books rave about. If you’re visiting a big city, then you might need to make your reservation well in advance of your arrival. There are some restaurants out there where you have to make a booking around six months (or sometimes more) ahead of time.
Finally, remember to push yourself! It’s easy to be put off by some of the weird-looking dishes that they eat around the world, but there is a reason why they eat them. So it’s worthwhile being a little bit brave and trying a dish that you wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, eat. If nothing else, you’ll have a good story to tell from your travels — especially if the dish was particularly unusual.